Happy Third Day of Christmas!
January 25th, 2023 is The Robbie Burns Supper at St. George’s! Tickets are just $20 for a hearty meal of haggis (or vegetarian haggis), potatoes, carrots, pease porridge, cranachan for dessert, coffee, tea, and punch. You can email or call me for tickets. Doors open at 6pm. Dinner at 6:30pm. Don’t miss out!
Let’s Celebrate Epiphany on Epiphany 🙂 Jay and I will be offering an Epiphany Zoom service at 7pm on Epiphany (Friday, January 6). This is particularly important this year so that we can mark The Holy Day of the Naming of Jesus on January 1st. The Sunday after the Epiphany is never celebrated as the Epiphany. It is always The Baptism of the Lord.
As the Christmas Season is now in full swing, here are a few liturgical notes about the Christmas season that you might be interested in knowing. Traditionally, we have 12 days of Christmas (hence the song with that name) that began on Christmas and carried through until the eve of the Epiphany on Jan.5. In more recent decades, the Church marks out the Christmas season slightly differently. We are currently in what is called the octave of Christmas. This is the Church’s way of saying this feast is a big deal and we carry on the intensity of the celebration for eight full days until Jan.1st (The Holy Day of The Naming of Jesus). The Christmas season itself goes on until the conclusion of Evening Prayer on the Holy Day of The Baptism of the Lord. In this way, the Epiphany is included as part of Christmas because it is an important part of the Christmas story. This also highlights the Baptism of the Lord as a climatic observance in the portion of the Church year from the First Sunday of Advent until the beginning of Lent. About the crèche: Before the service for The Epiphany of the Lord, the shepherds and animals are usually removed from the crèche and the Wise Men are added. If you’re interested, the Church of England provides “Acclamations at the Presentation of the Gifts”, p.163 here: www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/churchs-year/times-and-seasons/epiphany. It is after the last liturgy of the Baptism of the Lord when the crèche is removed from the church.
What to do about next Sunday? It is the First Sunday after Christmas but, for the first time in a long time, it is also January 1st. What’s so special about that (other than being the first day of 2023)?
January 1st is the Holy Day of The Naming of Jesus. This Holy Day comes eight days after Jesus’ birth (when he would have been circumcised) and, if it falls on a Sunday, it takes precedence over the usual Sunday liturgy since this is a day that has a pre-eminent role in the Paschal Mystery. It is not, however, moved to a Sunday. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshua (to deliver/to rescue). Names carry meaning (Susan, for example, is the Hebrew word for ‘lily’) but names are also our identity and carry the power associated with that identity. Many times over, we are told that the apostles teach, preach, heal, etc., in the name of Jesus – in other words, because of the name of Jesus. As the popular song says, “There is power in the name of Jesus.” As our Deliverer, we have many (about 200!) names/titles for Jesus. If you’d like to check some of them out, go here: https://www.gotquestions.org/names-Jesus-Christ.html
For Your Devotions: (I decided to include yesterday’s even though it is now past)
Monday, December 26th is the Holy Day of St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr. The alternate date for this Holy Day is August 3rd. Stephen is the first recorded martyr who died for his faith in Jesus Christ and thus is often referred to as the “protomartyr.” We first hear of Stephen when he is one of the seven deacons chosen and ordained in Acts 6. It wasn’t long before a deadly plot was hatched against this preacher of the Good News and Stephen was charged with blasphemy then stoned to death. Luke makes sure we know that the person before whom Stephen’s killers laid their garments was none other than Saul (later called “Paul”, who would become one of the Lord’s greatest disciples). More info: https://www.thoughtco.com/saint-stephen-542519
Tuesday, December 27th is the Holy Day of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist. The alternate date for this Holy Day is May 6th. John is also called “Saint John the Divine.” In Christian tradition, John is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, he is the son of Zebedee and brother to James, and generally credited as being the author of three letters and the Gospel of John. Some also attribute the Book of Revelation to him as well. Of course, scholars debate whether or not he actually wrote those things but, regardless, he was an important leader in the early Church in Jerusalem. John was also one of the three apostles (Peter, James, John) who formed Jesus’ intimate inner circle. For more information – and some interesting legends: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-John-the-Apostle
Wednesday, December 28th is the Holy Day of The Holy Innocents. The alternate date for this Holy Day is January 11th. This is the remembrance of the innocent children slaughtered in Bethlehem on the order of King Herod the Great in his attempt to kill Jesus. This feast most likely originally shared the day of The Epiphany but eventually was designated its own day of observance. It was a day of fasting and mourning. In fact, in medieval England, children were reminded of the solemnity of the day by being whipped in bed. What a way to start your day! For more info: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Feast-of-the-Holy-Innocents
Thursday, December 29th is the commemoration of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1170. Thomas began his career as an accountant but was eventually made Chancellor to King Henry II. For political reasons, Henry wanted to make Thomas the Archbishop. Thomas argued against this but was ordained anyway. This is the point at which Thomas became both devout and austere, baffling those around him. He began to butt heads with Henry over many issues and lived in exile for about six years. He was welcomed back but some harsh words of Henry – which some knights took literally – led to Thomas’ murder in the Cathedral as Thomas staunchly defended his faith in Christ to the end. For more info: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Thomas-Becket
Saturday, December 31st is the commemoration of John West, missionary in Red River; died 1845. John West was a chaplain for the Hudson Bay Company and was the first Anglican priest in Western Canada. He founded a school as well as a small church that eventually became the Cathedral of St. John in Winnipeg. In addition to his work for the Church, John West is known for the Indigenous artifacts that he was given and collected during his time in Red River. After being passed down through his family, these precious artifacts are now in the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. Of particular note is that one of West’s converts – Henry Budd – became the first Indigenous Canadian to be ordained as an Anglican priest. For more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_West_(missionary)
Christmas joy to you,